How to Get a Good Start in Life with Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

The dream of starting a family is one of our strongest biological urges, as well as a common thread that runs throughout humanity and history.

Sadly, not everyone who wants to have children is able to conceive. And even among those who can, the potential for unforeseen disaster is no more than an invisible genetic fault away.

No one wants to think of all the ways a pregnancy could go wrong—but when it does, the baby’s ultimate survival and well-being depends, not just on the careful hands of doctors and nurses, but on the love, determination, and fighting spirit of the parents.

Put em' up, put 'em up... Source:
Put em’ up, put ’em up… Source:

Fortunately, little Ashton Stone of Oregon has two VERY determined parents. The Beaverton Valley Times reports Tara Ouellette-Stone and her husband, Josh, spent 13 years trying to conceive, and after undergoing pricey in vitro fertilization treatment, they were overjoyed to learn Tara was pregnant.

Tara’s tears of happiness soon turned to tears of fear, though, when she began having complications.

In October, she had to be hospitalized after a dangerous spike in her blood pressure. In November, it climbed again, and doctors were forced to deliver Ashton prematurely.

Worse, they could not guarantee either mother or child would survive.

Ashton weighed in at just over two pounds and spent the first weeks of his life hooked to machines and struggling to survive. After two days, it was clear that Ashton had experienced a series of severe brain hemorrhages, and doctors diagnosed him with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. The situation was so dire that doctors recommended Tara and Josh make the decision to end their son’s life.

Tara and Josh refused to even consider the option, and instead steeled themselves for the long, tough battle to save Ashton’s life.

It wasn’t easy, but today, Ashton is in Columbus, Ohio, receiving specialty treatment for his bronchopulmonary dysplasia at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio [Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Tara found the hospital online after Ashton had undergone a series of surgeries and was struggling for oxygen. She called the hospital and managed to reach a nurse practitioner in the bronchopulmonary dysplasia neonatal intensive care unit—the only one of its kind in the country.

After a whirlwind of calls and clearances, including an hour and a half-call with the couple’s insurance to convince them to cover the cost of flying to Ohio, Ashton was on his way. Since then, Tara has seen slow, but steady, improvements, and Ashton has even filled out to a healthy 17 pounds—earning him the new nickname, “Chunky Moose!”

But there are still many obstacles ahead, and the costs are high.

After taking so much time off, Tara lost her job, while the bills are still mounting. The couple has spent an estimated $3 million on Ashton’s care so far. There’s also the emotional toll: Tara has had to relocate to Ohio and will likely be there for up to 2 years. Meanwhile, Josh is trying to find work so he can eventually follow them there.

Still, despite the challenges, Tara and Josh are determined to do whatever it takes to give their son a shot at growing up and living out his own dreams.

Ronald Ledsen

Ronald Ledsen

After emigrating from his native Sweden, Ronald spent a stint in the Merchant Marines while trying to work out what he wanted to do with his life. He discovered a love of writing while helping a friend write anonymous Harry Potter fan-fiction online; he discovered meaning to his writing when he began journaling after an anxiety disorder diagnosis. Ronald is most relaxed when spending quiet time with his wife, two sons, and hyperactive cat.

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